Chicago restaurants, venues require age 5 and up show proof of vaccination

Local News

CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) — Chicago will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor venues starting Monday. That includes restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues like sport entertainment arenas.

Under the order issued last week by the county’s health department, businesses must require any individual age 5 and older to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with an approved vaccine before they can enter the business.

The mandate also includes movie theaters, concert venues, arcades, sports arenas and anywhere else where food and drink are served.

Also starting Monday, all Illinois Secretary of State offices, including driver services, will be closed until at least Jan. 18.  

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the measure is necessary because of a surge in cases and hospitalizations, with Chicago seeing numbers at levels similar to before vaccines were available. Chicago is reporting an average of more than 1,700 new COVID cases per day, up from about 300 per day just weeks ago, she said.

“To be clear, I have not been this concerned about COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic in 2020,” Lightfoot said. She also urged people to get vaccinated, saying it’s the only way for life to return to some kind of normalcy and the best way to save lives.

The mayor’s office said more than 60 Chicago residents are being hospitalized with COVID each day and an average of 10 are dying from COVID daily. Most of Chicago’s COVID hospitalizations and deaths are people who are not vaccinated, the mayor’s office said.

“The solution is vaccine,” Lightfoot said.

On Monday, Illinois reported about 12,330 new COVID-19 cases — the highest daily total in more than a year. Much of that increase has been driven by the omicron variant, prompting fears of a winter surge.

Federal health officials announced Monday that omicron accounted for 73% of new infections last week, a nearly sixfold increase in only seven days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported omicron’s prevalence is even higher in some parts of the U.S., with the variant responsible for an estimated 90% of new infections in the industrial Midwest, the New York area, the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest.

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